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Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

PRESIDENTIAL AD HOC FACT- G.R. NO. 135687


FINDING COMMITTEE ON BEHEST
LOANS, represented by: PRESIDENTIAL
COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT
(PCGG),
Petitioner,
Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CHICO-NAZARIO, and
NACHURA, JJ.
HON. OMBUDSMAN ANIANO
DESIERTO, WENCESLAO PASCUAL,
GAUDENCIO VIDUYA, JULIA M.
MACUJA, PLACIDO MAPA, JR., JOSE
TEVES, ALEJANDRO MELCHOR, RECIO
M. GARCIA, DBP BOARD OF DIRECTORS
LORENZA N. SALCEDO, JOSEPHINE S.
GARCIA, STOCKHOLDERS OF P.R.
GARCIA & SONS DEVELOPMENT and
INVESTMENT CORPORATION,
Respondents.
(Re: OMB-0-96-2643)
x-----------------------------x
PRESIDENTIAL AD HOC FACT-FINDING
COMMITTEE ON BEHEST LOANS,
represented by: PRESIDENTIAL
COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT
(PCGG),
Petitioner,

- versus -

PLACIDO MAPA Board of Director/


Chairman DBP,
RECIO GARCIA Member,
JOSE TENGCO, JR. Member,
RAFAEL SISON Chairman,
JOSE R. TENGCO Member,
ALICE L. REYES Member,
CESAR SALAMEA Chairman,
DON PERRY Vice Chairman,
ROLANDO M. SOZA Member,
RICARDO SILVERIO, SR.,
RICARDO SILVERIO, JR.
RICARDO S. TANGCO, Stockholders/
Directors of Golden River Mining Corp.,
Respondents.
(Re: OMB-0-96-2644)
x---------------------------x

PRESIDENTIAL AD HOC FACT-FINDING


COMMITTEE ON BEHEST LOANS,
represented by: PRESIDENTIAL
COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT
(PCGG),
Petitioner,

- versus -

PANFILO O. DOMINGO Former PNB President,


CONRADO S. REYES Former NIDC General
Manager,
CONRADO T. CALALANG,
ANTONIO M. GONZALES,
NORBERTO L. VILLARAMA,
SENEN B. DE LA COSTA,
ANTONIO O. MENDOZA, JR.,
IGNACIO C. BERTUMEN,
Stockholders/Officers of Filipino Carbon and
Mining Corporation,
Respondents.
(Re: OMB-0-96-2645) Promulgated:
July 24, 2007
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to annul and set
aside the Order[1] of the Ombudsman dated July 6, 1998 dismissing three complaints
filed by petitioner docketed as OMB-0-96-2643, OMB-0-96-2644 and OMB-0-96-
2645, and its Order[2] of August 31, 1998, denying petitioner's motion for
reconsideration.

The factual and procedural antecedents of the case are as follows:

On October 8, 1992, then President Fidel V. Ramos issued Administrative


Order No. 13, which created herein petitioner Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding
Committee on Behest Loans (Committee).

On March 6, 1996 and June 28, 1996, Orlando S. Salvador (Salvador), in his
capacity as PCGG consultant, executed three separate Sworn Statements stating that
among the loan accounts referred by the Assets Privatization Trust to the Committee
for investigation, report and recommendation are those of the following
corporations: P.R. Garcia and Sons Development and Investment Corporation
(PRGS), Golden River Mining Corporation (Golden River), and Filipinas Carbon
and Mining Corporation (Filcarbon).
With respect to the loan account of PRGS, Salvador alleged that the said
corporation obtained from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) an initial
loan guarantee of P26,726,774.72 and a straight industrial loan amounting
to P29,226,774.72 on October 26, 1967 for the purpose of redeeming mortgaged
properties, rehabilitating buildings and equipment and defraying its operational
expenses.

Anent the loan account of Golden River, Salvador claimed that the corporation
obtained loan accommodations from DBP beginning from 1975 until 1982 and that
as of October 31, 1986, it had a total obligation of P43,193,000.00; that out of its
five loan accounts, only the first two loans of Golden River obtained in 1975 and
1977 were sufficiently collateralized, leaving three other loans without any sufficient
collateral, to wit: refinancing loan obtained in 1980 for the amount
of P14,724,430.00; refinancing loan obtained on March 13, 1982 for the amount
of P5,551,000.00; and refinancing loan obtained on December 1, 1982 for the
amount of P7,118,656.52.

As to the loan account of Filcarbon, Salvador averred that the said corporation
applied with the National Investment Development Corporation (NIDC) a loan
guarantee of P27.4 Million on January 17, 1977; that the loan application was
favorably recommended by the President of the Philippine National Bank (PNB);
that the application was subsequently approved by PNB's Board of Directors on
August 17, 1977.

Salvador alleged that, based on the evidence submitted to the Committee,


these three corporations did not have sufficient collaterals for the loans they
obtained, except with respect to the loans obtained by Golden River in 1975 and
1977. Salvador also alleged that the above-mentioned corporations did not have
adequate capital to ensure not only the viability of their operations but also their
ability to repay all their loans. Accordingly, the Committee found the loan accounts
of the above-mentioned three corporations as behest loans.
The Committee submitted its report to President Ramos who instructed then
PCGG Chairman Magtanggol Gunigundo, sitting as the Committee's ex-officio
Chairman, to file the necessary charges against the DBP Chairman and members of
the Board of Directors, the former PNB President and former NIDC General
Manager, together with the respective stockholders/officers of the three
corporations.

Subsequently, the Sworn Statements of Salvador were used by the Committee


as its bases in filing separate complaints with the Office of the Ombudsman against
herein private respondents for alleged violation of the provisions of Sections 3
(e)[3] and (g)[4] of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act.

The complaint against respondents Lorenzo N. Salcedo and Josephine S.


Garcia, stockholders of PRGS; and Wenceslao Pascual, Gaudencio Viduya, Julia
D. Macuja, Placido L. Mapa, Jr., Jose Teves, Alejandro Melchor, Recio Garcia,
Rafael Sison, Cesar Zalamea, Don M. Perry and Rolando Soza, then officers and
members of the Board of Directors of DBP, is docketed as OMB-0-96-2643.

The complaint against Ricardo Silverio, Sr., Ricardo Silverio, Jr., and Ricardo
S. Tangco, stockholders of Golden River; and Placido Mapa, Jose
de Ocampo, Recio Garcia, Jose Tengco, Jr., Rafael Sison, Jose de Ocampo, Jose
R. Tengco, Alice L. Reyes, Cesar Zalamea, Don Perry and Rolando M. Soza, then
officers and members of the Board of Directors of DBP, is docketed as OMB-0-96-
2644.
The complaint against Panfilo O. Domingo, then PNB President; Conrado S.
Reyes, then NIDC General Manager; and Conrado Calalang, Antonio M. Gonzales,
Norberto L. Villarama, Sene B. dela Costa, Antonio O. Mendoza, Jr. and Ignacio
C. Bertumen, officers and stockholders of Filcarbon, is docketed as OMB-0-96-
2645.

Subsequently, the three aforementioned cases were consolidated by the Office


of the Ombudsman.
In his assailed Order of July 6, 1998, the Ombudsman, upon the
recommendation of the Evaluation and Preliminary Investigation Bureau, dismissed
the complaints against herein respondents. The Ombudsman ruled that, except with
respect to the two loan transactions entered into by Golden River in 1982, all the
offenses alleged by the Committee as having been committed by herein respondents
had already prescribed under the provisions of Section 11 of R.A. No. 3019. As to
the two 1982 transactions of Golden River, the Ombudsman found that, contrary to
the claims of herein petitioner, the loan accounts obtained by the said corporation
have sufficient collaterals.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the Ombudsman denied it in


its Order dated August 31, 1998.

Hence, herein petition.

Petitioner contends that the Ombudsman erred in dismissing, motu proprio,


the three complaints without first requiring respondents to submit their counter-
affidavits and petitioner to file its reply thereto. Such dismissal, petitioner avers, is
premature. Petitioner further argues that even granting that the Ombudsman feels
that petitioner's evidence is insufficient, the Ombudsman should have first required
petitioner to clarify said evidence or to adduce additional evidence, in accordance
with due process.

Petitioner also asserts that the Ombudsman erred in dismissing petitioner's


Motion for Reconsideration on the ground that it was filed out of time as evidence
shows that the said motion was timely filed.

Petitioner contends that the consolidation of the three complaints and the
subsequent issuance of a single Order dismissing them is erroneous. Petitioner
argues that the three complaints cannot be lumped together and a single order issued
for their resolution as these complaints involve different sets of facts and are based
on different loan transactions.

Petitioner further avers that the pieces of evidence submitted as part of the
complaints were not considered by the Ombudsman when it issued the assailed
Orders; that the findings of the Committee that the subject loans are behest loans
prevail; and, that the right of the State to recover behest loans as ill-gotten wealth is
not barred by prescription.

In his Comment, the Ombudsman, citing the proceedings of the 1986


Constitutional Commission as authority, contends that the provisions of Section 15,
Article XI of the Constitution, which provides for the imprescriptibility of the right
of the State to recover ill-gotten wealth, applies only to civil actions and not to
criminal cases. The Ombudsman further avers that prior to its amendment, Section
11 of R.A. No. 3019 provided that the period for the prescription or extinguishment
of a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act was ten years.
Subsequently, the said provision was amended in 1982 increasing the prescriptive
period to fifteen years. Applying the Constitution and the law to the present case, the
Ombudsman argues that, except with respect to the two loan transactions entered
into by Golden River in 1982, all the other alleged criminal acts of herein private
respondents in connection with the loan transactions they entered into in the years
1967 until 1980 had already prescribed in 1995. Hence, private respondents can no
longer be prosecuted with respect to these transactions.

The Ombudsman also avers that under Section 2, Rule II of Administrative


Order No. 7 (Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman), the Ombudsman
is authorized to dismiss, motu proprio, a complaint even without requiring the
respondents to file their counter-affidavits and even without conducting a
preliminary investigation.

As to the loan accounts of Golden River obtained on March 13, 1982 and
December 1, 1982, the Ombusman contends that based on pieces of evidence
presented by the complainant, the said loans had more than sufficient collateral.
The Ombudsman asserts that his findings of fact and his application of
pertinent laws as well as rules of evidence deserve great weight and respect and even
accorded full faith and credit in the absence of any showing of any error or grave
abuse of discretion.

Respondents Panfilo O. Domingo, Jose R. Tengco, Jr., Alicia Ll. Reyes,


Cesar Zalamea, Placido L. Mapa, Jr., Conrado T. Calalang, Norberto Villarama and
Ricardo C. Silverio filed their respective Comments. While the present petition is
pending in this Court, respondents Conrado Reyes and Jose Teves died.[5] In a
Resolution[6] issued by this Court dated February 22, 2006,
respondents Wenceslao Pascual, Senen dela Costa, Lorenzo Salcedo and Antonio
Mendoza were dropped as respondents for an earlier resolution of the case after all
efforts of petitioner to ascertain their correct and present addresses proved to be in
vain.
With respect to the other respondents who failed to file their respective
comments, the Court dispenses with the comments in order that the present petition
may be resolved.

The Court shall first deal with the issue of prescription as this was the main
basis of the Ombudsman in dismissing petitioner's complaints.

Section 15, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides:


The right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by
public officials or employees, from them or from their nominees or
transferees, shall not be barred by prescription, laches, or estoppel.

In Presidential Ad Hoc Committee v. Hon. Desierto[7], the Court held that


the imprescriptibility of the right of the State to recover ill-gotten wealth applies only
to civil actions for recovery of ill-gotten wealth, and not to criminal cases. In other
words, the prosecution of offenses arising from, relating or incident to, or involving
ill-gotten wealth contemplated in the above-mentioned provision of the Constitution
may be barred by prescription.[8]

Under Section 11 of R.A. No. 3019, as amended


by Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 195, which took effect on March 16, 1982, the
prescriptive period for offenses punishable under the said Act was increased from
ten to fifteen years.

As to whether or not the subject complaints filed against herein respondents


had already prescribed, the Court's disquisition on an identical issue in Salvador
v. Desierto[9] is instructive, to wit:

The applicable laws on prescription of criminal offenses defined


and penalized under the Revised Penal Code are found in Articles 90 and
91 of the same Code. For those penalized by special laws, Act No. 3326,
as amended, applies. Here, since R.A. 3019, the law alleged to have been
violated, is a special law, the applicable law in the computation of the
prescriptive period is Section 2 of Act No. 3326, as amended, which
provides:

Sec. 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commission of
the violation of the law, and if the same not be known at the time, from
the discovery thereof and the institution of judicial proceedings for its
investigation and punishment.
The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted
against the guilty person, and shall begin to run again if the proceedings
are dismissed for reasons not constituting jeopardy.
The above provisions are clear and need no interpretation. In Presidential
Ad Hoc Committee vs. Hon. Desierto*, we held:
x x x it was well-nigh impossible for the State, the aggrieved party, to have
known the violations of R.A. No. 3019 at the time the questioned
transactions were made because, as alleged, the public officials concerned
connived or conspired with the beneficiaries of the loans. Thus, we agree
with the COMMITTEE that the prescriptive period for the offenses with
which respondents in OMB-0-96-0968 were charged should be computed
from the discovery of the commission thereof and not from the day of such
commission.
The assertion by the Ombudsman that the phrase if the same not be known
in Section 2 of Act No. 3326 does not mean lack of knowledge but that the
crime is not reasonably knowable is unacceptable, as it provides an
interpretation that defeats or negates the intent of the law, which is written
in a clear and unambiguous language and thus provides no room for
interpretation but only application.
We reiterated the above ruling in Presidential Ad Hoc Fact Finding
Committee on Behest Loans vs. Desierto** thus:
In cases involving violations of R.A. No. 3019 committed prior to the
February 1986 Edsa Revolution that ousted President Ferdinand E.
Marcos, we ruled that the government as the aggrieved party could not
have known of the violations at the time the questioned transactions were
made (PCGG vs. Desierto, G.R. No. 140232, January 19, 2001, 349 SCRA
767; Domingo vs. Sandiganbayan, supra, Note 14; Presidential Ad Hoc
Fact Finding Committee on Behest Loans vs. Desierto, supra, Note 16).
Moreover, no person would have dared to question the legality of those
transactions. Thus, the counting of the prescriptive period commenced
from the date of discovery of the offense in 1992 after an exhaustive
investigation by the Presidential Ad Hoc Committee on Behest Loans.
As to when the period of prescription was interrupted, the second
paragraph of Section 2, Act No. 3326, as amended, provides
that prescription is interrupted when proceedings are instituted against
the guilty person.[10]

The complaints filed against respondents did not specify the exact dates when
the alleged offenses were discovered. However, it is not disputed that it was the
Committee that discovered the same. As such, the discovery could not have been
made earlier than October 13, 1992, the date when the Committee was created. It is
clear, therefore, that the alleged criminal offenses against herein respondents had not
yet prescribed when the complaints were filed in 1996. Thus, the Ombudsman
seriously erred in dismissing the three complaints filed by petitioner on the ground
of prescription.

As to petitioner's claim that it is error on the part of the Ombudsman to


deny petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration on the ground that the same was filed
out of time:

The Ombudsman is presumed to have regularly performed its official duty in


the determination of whether or not the said Motion was really filed beyond
thereglementary period as provided under the pertinent rules of the Office of the
Ombudsman. However, this presumption is disputable. In the present case, petitioner
contends that the subject Motion was sent by registered mail on July 29, 1998, which
was the last day allowed for filing of the same. As proof of such mailing, petitioner
presented a Certification[11] issued by the Central Post Office in Manila stating
therein that Registered Letter No. 74220 was sent by the PCGG on July 29,
1998, addressed to the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila, and that said letter was
duly delivered to and received on August 5, 1998 by an authorized representative of
the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman failed to controvert petitioner's
submission in any of the pleadings filed in the present petition. A simple referral to
the date that appears on the front page of the Motion for Reconsideration, indicating
the date when the Office of the Ombudsman received the Motion, would have easily
disputed the allegation of petitioners. In the absence thereof, the Court finds that the
presumption of regularity of the Ombudsman's performance of his official duties
must yield to the evidence presented by petitioner. As such, petitioner's Motion for
Reconsideration of the Order of the Ombudsman dated July 6, 1998 should be
considered as timely filed.

Nonetheless, a perusal of the assailed Order dated August 31, 1998 of the
Ombudsman shows that there are grounds other than late filing upon which the
Ombudsman denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration, to wit:
xxxx

All the foregoing notwithstanding, and bearing in mind the peculiar


circumstances of this case, particularly the fact that the subject loans are
now alleged as ill-gotten wealth and behest loans, the same remains to be
bare allegations with no new evidence tendered to thwart the Order in
question.

The complaints herein are plain and simple. There is no allegation


even that the questioned loans were granted at the behest of respondent
officials in these cases x x x.
x x x x[12]
It, thus, appears that the Ombudsman's basis for dismissing the complaints was not
merely the prescription of the complaints, but also the lack of any allegation therein
that the questioned loans are behest loans.

However, while there was no specific or particular mention that the questioned loan
accounts were behest loans, the complaints contain allegations consistent with the
criteria laid down by Memorandum Order No. 61 issued by President Ramos
on November 9, 1992.

The said Memorandum provides for the following as a frame of reference in


determining whether a loan, which is under scrutiny, is behest:

(a) It is under-collateralized;
(b) The borrower corporation is undercapitalized;
(c) Direct or indirect endorsement by high government officials, like the
presence of marginal notes;
(d) Stockholders, officers or agents of the borrower corporation are identified
as cronies;
(e) Deviation of use of loan proceeds from the purpose intended;
(f) Use of corporate layering;
(g) Non-feasibility of the project for which financing is being sought; and
(h) Extraordinary speed with which the loan release was made.[13] (Emphasis
supplied).

In Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Hon. Desierto,[14] the


Ombudsman adopted the position that to qualify as a behest loan, two or more of the
criteria enumerated in Memorandum Order No. 61 must be present.

It is therefore erroneous for the Ombudsman to conclude in the present case that the
complaints against PRGS and Filcarbon were bereft of any allegations that their
questioned loans are behest, considering that said complaints explicitly alleged the
presence of two of the criteria: that the subject loans are under-collateralized and that
the borrower corporations are undercapitalized.

Section 2, Rule II of Administrative Order No. 7 of the Office of the Ombudsman,


otherwise known as the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman,
provides:

SEC. 2. Evaluation. - Upon evaluating the complaint, the investigating


officer shall recommend whether it may be:

a) dismissed outright for want of palpable merit;


b) referred to respondent for comment;
c) indorsed to the proper government office or agency which has
jurisdiction over the case;
d) forwarded to the appropriate officer or official for fact-finding
investigation;
e) referred for administrative adjudication; or
f) subjected to a preliminary investigation.

While under this Rule, the Ombudsman may dismiss a complaint outright for want
of palpable merit, but a sense of justice and fairness demands that the Ombudsman
must set forth in a Resolution the reasons for such dismissal.
It is a requirement of due process that the parties to a litigation be informed of how
it was decided, with an explanation of the factual and legal reasons that led to the
conclusions of the court.[15] This Court has held that the constitutional and statutory
mandate that no decision shall be rendered by any court of record without expressing
therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based applies as
well to dispositions by quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.[16] In fact, Section
18 of R.A. No. 6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989, makes the
Rules of Court applicable, in a suppletory manner, to its own rules of procedure. One
of the requirements provided under Section 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court is that
a judgment or final order determining the merits of the case should state the facts
and the law on which it is based.
A careful reading of the questioned Orders of the Ombudsman shows that there is
no express finding that the complaints filed by petitioner were manifestly without
merit. There is no explanation or discussion, whatsoever, as to how it reached its
conclusion that the disputed loans are not behest insofar as PRGS and Filcarbon are
concerned.

Thus, for a proper disposition of the complaints against PRGS and Filcarbon, the
Court finds it necessary to refer them back to the Ombudsman for proper evaluation
based on their merits.

As to Golden River, the Ombudsman did not err in dismissing the complaint against
it with respect to its loan transactions obtained on March 13, 1982 and December 1,
1982. The Court finds no cogent reason to deviate from the findings of the
Ombudsman, to wit:
Discussing these two loans, we find that in 1980, Golden River
Corporation was granted a refinance in the amount of P14,724,430 pesos.
Such grant in 1982 for P5,551,000.00 is less than 50% of the said
P14,724,430 pesos, hence, this cannot be said to be granted with
insufficient collateral, taking the same as reference point alone without the
previous collaterals and assets which were admittedly sufficient as
admitted by complainant in paragraph b, p. 2 of the Sworn Statement of
Orlando L. Salvador (p. 10, Records, OMB-0-96-2644)
xxx

Likewise, the loans for P7,118,656.52 on December 1, 1982 is not


more than 50% of the additional assets alone which is the money
equivalent of the two refinanced loans of P14,724,430.00 and
P5,551,000.00 the total of which is P20,275,430.00 pesos. Considering
that the refinancing ratio has a maximum of 70% of the total
assets/collaterals, even the last two loans which were within the
prescriptive period are not without sufficient collaterals.
In other words, collaterals were sufficient in accordance with Sec.
78, R.A. 337, as amended (General Banking Act) x x x[17]

This Court has consistently held that the Ombudsman has discretion to
determine whether a criminal case, given its facts and circumstances, should be filed
or not. It is basically his call. He may dismiss the complaint forthwith should he find
it to be insufficient in form and substance or, should he find it otherwise, to continue
with the inquiry; or he may proceed with the investigation if, in his view, the
complaint is in due and proper form and substance. Quite relevant is the Court's
ruling in Espinosa v. Office of the Ombudsman[18] and reiterated in the case of The
Presidential Ad Hoc Fact- Finding Committee on Behest Loans v.
Hon. Desierto,[19] to wit:

The prosecution of offenses committed by public officers is vested in the


Office of the Ombudsman. To insulate the Office from outside pressure
and improper influence, the Constitution as well as R.A. 6770 has
endowed it with a wide latitude of investigatory and prosecutory powers
virtually free from legislative, executive or judicial intervention. This
court consistently refrains from interfering with the exercise of its powers,
and respects the initiative and independence inherent in the Ombudsman
who, beholden to no one, acts as the champion of the people and the
preserver of the integrity of the public service.[20]

As a rule, the Court shall not unduly interfere in the Ombudsmans exercise of his
investigatory and prosecutory powers, as provided in the Constitution, without good
and compelling reasons to indicate otherwise.[21] The basis for this rule was provided
in the case of Ocampo IV v. Ombudsman[22] where the Court held as follows:

The rule is based not only upon respect for the investigatory
and prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of the
Ombudsman but upon practicality as well. Otherwise, the functions of the
courts will be grievously hampered by innumerable petitions assailing the
dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the Office of the
Ombudsman with regard to complaints filed before it, in much the same
way that the courts would be extremely swamped if they would be
compelled to review the exercise of discretion on the part of the fiscals or
prosecuting attorneys each time they decide to file an information in court
or dismiss a complaint by a private complainant.[23]

While the Court has previously held that it may interfere with the discretion of the
Ombudsman in case of clear abuse of discretion,[24] the Ombudsman is not guilty of
abuse of discretion in dismissing the complaint against Golden River insofar as the
two 1982 loan transactions are concerned.

However, the complaint against Golden River had not been completely disposed of
by the Ombudsman as it failed to discuss the refinancing loan obtained by the said
corporation in 1980 for the amount of P14,724,430.00. Hence, the complaint against
Golden River should also be referred back to the Ombudsman for proper evaluation
of its merits with respect to the aforementioned loan.

Petitioner contended that the Ombudsman erred in dismissing the complaints


without requiring respondents to file their counter-affidavits and petitioner its reply,
or to further require petitioner to clarify its evidence or adduce additional evidence.

It is quite clear under Section 2(a), Rule II of the Rules of Procedure of the Office
of the Ombudsman, that it may dismiss a complaint outright for want of palpable
merit. At that point, the Ombudsman does not have to conduct a preliminary
investigation upon receipt of a complaint.[25] Should the investigating officer find the
complaint devoid of merit, then he may recommend its outright dismissal.[26] The
Ombudsman has discretion to determine whether a preliminary investigation is
proper.[27] It is only when the Ombudsman opts not to dismiss the complaint outright
for lack of palpable merit would the Ombudsman be expected to require the
respondents to file their counter-affidavit and petitioner, its reply.

Lastly, the Court finds nothing erroneous in the Ombudsman's act of consolidating
the three complaints and of issuing a single order for their dismissal considering that,
with the exception of the complaint regarding the two 1982 loan accounts of Golden
River which was separately discussed by the Ombudsman on their merits, the
dismissal of all the other complaints was based on a common ground, which is
prescription.

However, in the remand of the complaints against respondents, orderly


administration of justice behooves the Ombudsman not to consolidate the three
complaints, as the respective respondents therein would inevitably raise different
defenses which would require separate presentation of evidence by the parties
involved.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Except with


respect to the complaints relative to the loan accounts of Golden River obtained on
March 13, 1982, and December 1, 1982, the assailed Orders of the Ombudsman
dated July 6, 1998 and August 31, 1998 in OMB-0-96-2643, OMB-0-96-2644 and
OMB-0-96-2645 are SET ASIDE.

The Office of the Ombudsman is directed to conduct with dispatch an evaluation on


the respective merits of the complaints against herein respondents pursuant to the
provisions of Section 2, Rule II of its Rules of Procedure.

SO ORDERED.

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

Facts:

On October 8, 1992, then President Fidel V. Ramos issued Administrative Order No. 13 creating the
Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans (Committee) which was tasked to
inventory all behest loans, determine the parties involved and recommend whatever appropriate actions
to be pursued thereby.

On November 9, 1992, President Ramos issued Memorandum Order No. 61 expanding the functions of
the Committee to include the inventory and review of all non-performing loans, whether behest or non-
behest.

The Memorandum set the following criteria to show the earmarks of a "behest loan," to wit: "a) it is
undercollaterized; b) the borrower corporation is undercapitalized; c) a direct or indirect endorsement by
high government officials like presence of marginal notes; d) the stockholders, officers or agents of the
borrower corporation are identified as cronies; e) a deviation of use of loan proceeds from the purpose
intended; f) the use of corporate layering; g) the non-feasibility of the project for which financing is being
sought; and, h) the extraordinary speed in which the loan release was made."

Among the accounts referred to the Committee's Technical Working Group (TWG) were the loan
transactions between NOCOSII and PNB.

After it had examined and studied all the documents relative to the said loan transactions, the Committee
classified the loans obtained by NOCOSII from PNB as behest because of NOCOSII's insufficient capital
and inadequate collaterals. Specifically, the Committee's investigation revealed that in 1975, NOCOSII
obtained loans by way of Stand-By Letters of Credit from the PNB; that NOCOSII was able to get 155%
loan value from the offered collateral or an excess of 85% from the required percentage limit; that the
plant site offered as one of the collaterals was a public land contrary to the General Banking Act; that by
virtue of the marginal note of then President Marcos in the letter of Cajelo, NOCOSII was allowed to use
the public land as plant site and to dispense with the mortgage requirement of PNB; that NOCOSII's paid-
up capital at the time of the approval of the guaranty was only P2,500,000.00 or only about 6% of its
obligation.

Based on the Sworn Statement of PCGG consultant Orlando Salvador, petitioner filed with the Office of
the Ombudsman the criminal complaint against respondents. Petitioner alleges that respondents violated
the following provisions of Section 3 (e) and (g) of R.A. No. 3019.

The respondents failed to submit any responsive pleading before the Ombudsman, prompting Graft
Investigator Officer (GIO) I Melinda S. Diaz-Salcedo to resolve the case based on the available evidence.
In a Resolution dated January 12, 1998 in OMB-0-95-0890, GIO Diaz-Salcedo recommended the
dismissal of the case on the ground of insufficiency of evidence or lack of probable cause against the
respondents and for prescription of the offense. Ombudsman Desierto approved the recommendation on
May 21, 1999. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but it was denied by GIO Diaz-Salcedo in the
Order dated July 9, 1999, which was approved by Ombudsman Desierto on July 23, 1999.

Issue:

Whether respondents violated the following provisions of Sec 3 (e) and (g), specifically corrupt practices
of public official, of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act?

Held:

On the issue of whether the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in finding that no probable
cause exists against respondents, it must be stressed that the Ombudsman is empowered to determine
whether there exists reasonable ground to believe that a crime has been committed and that the accused
is probably guilty thereof and, thereafter, to file the corresponding information with the appropriate courts.
Settled is the rule that the Supreme Court will not ordinarily interfere with the Ombudsman's exercise of
his investigatory and prosecutory powers without good and compelling reasons to indicate otherwise.
Said exercise of powers is based upon his constitutional mandate and the courts will not interfere in its
exercise. The rule is based not only upon respect for the investigatory and prosecutory powers granted by
the Constitution to the Office of the Ombudsman, but upon practicality as well. Otherwise, innumerable
petitions seeking dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the Ombudsman will grievously
hamper the functions of the office and the courts, in much the same way that courts will be swamped if
they had to review the exercise of discretion on the part of public prosecutors each time they decided to
file an information or dismiss a complaint by a private complainant.
While there are certain instances when this Court may intervene in the prosecution of cases, such as, (1)
when necessary to afford adequate protection to the constitutional rights of the accused; (2) when
necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid oppression or multiplicity of actions; (3)
when there is a prejudicial question which is sub-judice; (4) when the acts of the officer are without or in
excess of authority; (5) where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or regulation; (6) when
double jeopardy is clearly apparent; (7) where the court has no jurisdiction over the offense; (8) where it is
a case of persecution rather than prosecution; (9) where the charges are manifestly false and motivated
by the lust for vengeance; and (10) when there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and a
motion to quash on that ground has been denied, none apply here.

After examination of the records and the evidence presented by petitioner, the Court finds no cogent
reason to disturb the findings of the Ombudsman.

No grave abuse of discretion can be attributed to the Ombudsman. Grave abuse of discretion implies a
capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. The exercise of power
must have been done in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility. It
must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform the
duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law.

The herein assailed Orders being supported by substantial evidence, there is no basis for the Court to
exercise its supervisory powers over the ruling of the Ombudsman. As long as substantial evidence
supports the Ombudsman's ruling, that decision will not be overturned.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. Except as to prescription, the assailed Resolution dated May
21, 1999 and Order dated July 23, 1999 of the Ombudsman in OMB No. 0-95-0890 are AFFIRMED. No
costs. SO ORDERED.